Saturday, June 1, 2013

2013 Draft, Player of Interest: rhp Chris Anderson

Chris Anderson
RHP Jacksonville University
6-4, 225 lbs

Courtesy: Jacksonville University

Chris Anderson is a righthanded pitcher in his junior year at Jacksonville University. He's on the short list of players I'd like to see the Reds draft.

On the season, Anderson posted a 2.49 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, .231 batting average against, and 101/27 K/BB ratio for the Dolphins. The numbers are impressive, but would be even more so if not for a rough patch he hit in the month of April. He scuffled a bit in that month, seemingly the result of fatigue from a heavy workload rather than any type of injury concern. Ideally, he'll build up his arm strength and stamina when he joins a professional organization, eliminating the chance that fatigue will drag down his performance level.

On the season, he made seven starts wherein he struck out at least 9 batters. And, he struck out 13 batters in a game on two separate occasions. Jacksonville University doesn't play against an elite level of competition, but his repertoire supports his performance level. He also flashes good command and control.

Anderson's fastball touched 95-96 early in the spring, but was more in the 90-92 range when working through fatigue later in the year. He also has a hard biting slider with tilt and plus potential. He rounds out his repertoire with a solid change-up and a functional curveball. The fastball and slider are already impressive pitches, though I think his curveball is also a touch underrated.

And, as an added benefit, Anderson possesses some of my favorite pitching mechanics in the entire draft class. He stands 6-4 and tips the scales at 225 lbs, giving him a near ideal pitcher's build, which he utilizes well in his mechanics. His height enables him to work on a downward plane, improving the effectiveness of his fastball.

Anderson's windup has a smooth tempo and good balance, due in part to good body control. He uses a strong leg kick with body coil to create tension. From apex, he drives to the plate. He uses a long stride, enabling him to fully and completely rotate his hips. He also drives directly to the plate, ensuring that he doesn't bleed force from the delivery. He would undoubtedly benefit from a greater differential between his hip rotation and shoulder rotation, but what he has is solid and helps him effectively throw with his entire body.

As for his arm action, he has a clean motion and keeps his pitching arm in good position relative to the rest of his body throughout the delivery. Overall, Anderson does just about everything right and does a nice job generating force with the kinetic chain, which should boost his performance level and reduce his injury risk.

Here's a look at Anderson in action, courtesy of alskor on YouTube:

If Anderson has a flaw, it's that he occasionally struggles to finish out over his stride leg. At times, he comes up a bit short, forcing his momentum to rotate around his stride foot and fall off to the first base side. That may mean that he needs to shorten up his lengthy stride just a tick or get more aggressive with his upper body when finishing up his delivery. Still, that's a correctable flaw.

Based on the majority of mock drafts currently out there, Anderson may well be off the board before the Reds even get to pick. If not, then he should get heavy consideration. I have a good feeling about Anderson. The only real question I have relates to the rough patch he went through in April. Was that merely fatigue from an overly burdensome workload? Or, evidence of something more concerning? Can improved conditioning and added strength allow him to handle a professional workload and maintain a high performance level?

If he can sustain his early season performance level, then he could develop into a true impact pitcher at the MLB level. He already flashes two plus-pitches, good command, strong mechanics, and a strong pitcher's build, all of which earns him a prominent spot on my draft board.

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